In 2004, when Kyrene de la Mariposa was named one of Arizona’s top elementary schools, the entire student body lined up to form a gigantic “A+” to celebrate the impressive new honor.
Now, five years later, Mariposa Principal Dr. Marianne Lescher found herself pondering a new dilemma: If the school were to win again, how could it top that last huge display of well-deserved pride?
Mariposa did win again this year-an almost unheard-of second time-and once again students assembled for another huge “A”, this time with two plus signs added instead of the original one. A commercial photographer was there to capture the moment, results of which will appear in Mariposa’s annual yearbook.
This year, Arizona Educational Foundation named 17 schools as A+ Schools of Excellence. Since 1983, the organization has honored exemplary PreK-12 public schools for excellence in student focus and support; active teaching and learning; curriculum; leadership; community and parent involvement; and assessment data.
Kelly Alexander, the Kyrene district’s director of community education, called Mariposa’s second receipt of the award a distinct honor.
“The award is based on a very rigorous application and selection process, including a site visit. Because they received an A+ before, you would think the second time would be a shoo-in, but it isn’t,” she said.
“We’re very, very proud of them.”
According to Alexander, Dr. Lescher has been principal at Mariposa for nine years, during which she has achieved the criteria the award requires, no simple task for any school administrator.
“But when a principal and staff have been together for a long time, they create a community spirit,” she said. The teachers also have benefitted from Lescher’s leadership, said Alexander.
“The teachers can learn and grow from a mentor like her; some (Mariposa teachers) have matured and became principals themselves.”
At an awards ceremony May 11, AEF Executive Director Bobbie O’Boyle presented the award and a banner to the school, with U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell on hand to add his congratulations.